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Ravenheart Archives: Archived

Reviews A cont (8)

AVARIEL..'THE DAWN'

(Independent Release) Reviewed 15th December 2010

Avariel from Boston USA has been put my way by my friend from the USA, Ms Robin Stryker. This lass seems to have cool musical tastes, so I have been waiting with cool anticipation for this release. Now it is here in the UK, what do I think? Well, if you take a mix of American Metal and stir it up with a good helping of European Symphonic Metal - well, maybe you will now have an idea. On first listen, this album impressed me, and on subsequent listens, it continues to please! 9 tracks all over 4 mins with four of these tracks exceeding 6 minutes and one of these over 11 mins, so you sure gets your monies worth on this little offering. 'Bleed' kicks things off with the symphonic influences appearing straight away - pounding riffs, cool synths and a great chorus! And let's not forget the magnificent vocals of Shannon Kelly. 'Tunnel's Light' is another epic track which maintains the listener's attention with it's all round awesome musicianship! 'Emotionless' shows no let up and I am liking what I hear a lot, while 'Victim' is possibly one of the heaviest tracks on this album, featuring subtle growls and pounding guitar and drum riffs from start to finish. The first 7 minute plus track 'Still', slows things down a touch and offers yet another cool chorus, great string arrangements too by the two guitarists, Michael Rose and Scott McDonald. 'Especially Alone' is the album's power ballad, and I am a sucker for these ballady type songs - great stuff! 'In Heaven' ups the ante while 'Dark Harbor' is the album's other ballad. Finally, the band attempt the ambitious - the closing track 'Phoenix' that runs at nearly 12 mins with it's subtle prog elements. They pull it off, what a splendid piece of music! While the major labels keep churning out mega pop crap by the bucket load, and then brainwashing 12-20 year olds to buy it, superb music like this continues to go relatively un-noticed. Oh, and cool album art aswell by Niklas Sundin, who has also contributed artwork for such bands as In flames, Arch enemy, Soilwork, Sentenced, Dark Tranquillity, Green Carnation and Moonspell. This is a must buy so check out www.myspace.com/avarielmusic - a great all round band effort!! 8.75/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

AVATARIUM…’THE GIRL WITH THE RAVEN MASK’

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 28th October 2015

Avatarium come from Sweden and this is their second release. The band ply their trade via their powerful and masterful vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith, their style of music being put into the Doom Metal category. Opening number on this their second album which so happens to be the title track, is an upbeat energetic number however, that does actually flirt with Power Metal, a powerful vocal performance as well. ‘The January Sea’ is a riff tastic number with a 70s feel, another powerful track running in at close on 8 minutes with Progressive elements coming to the fore. The band is in full flow after the first two tracks and it continues, my cup runneth over with fave tracks, but apart from the above mentioned opening salvo, I do rather like ‘Pearls and Coffin’ and the up tempo ‘Run Killer Run’. Although an album that fits into the Doom Metal cubby hole, the vocals are clean and powerful, this album being near faultless! 9/10 (The Nugget)

AVANTASIA...'GHOSTLIGHTS'

(Nuclear Blast) Reviewed 12th January 2016

Avantasia is a German Symphonic Power Metal supergroup project created by Tobias Sammet, vocalist of the band Edguy. It has been characterised as a rock opera, as it features various vocalists and musicians and it consists of concept albums. The project can be divided into three periods of activity. The first, 1999-2002, saw the release of a self-titled single and two full-length albums with the subtitle 'The Metal Opera'. The second, 2005-2011, consists of the EPs 'Lost in Space Part I & II' and The Wicked Trilogy, composed of the albums 'The Scarecrow', 'The Wicked Symphony' and 'Angel of Babylon'. The third period, 2013-2016, begins with the album 'The Mystery of Time' and ends with this release 'Ghostlights'. This album as with the other Avantasia releases has to be put into the "awesome" category, featuring yet another all-star Metal cast, including the likes of Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Geoff Tate (ex-Queensryche), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), Michael Kiske (Ex-Helloween), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), Bob Catley (Magnum), Jorn Lande, Bruce Kulick (ex-Kiss), Robert Mason (ex-Lynch Mob). No fillers here people within the thirteen gold nuggets on offer, just quality overflowing with bombastic hooks and pure melody. For you female music lovers, which you will be one will assume, by virtue of the fact you are on this site, Sharon Den Adel pops up on the number ‘Isle of Evermore’. "The album's concept deals with time and how science tries to manipulate and speed up people's perception of time to align society's pace… I'm taking a look at this, presuming that time is the key to being aware of the spiritual side of our existence," explains Tobi. "The "story" is set in the 18th century… In England of course…" And a footnote, we understand that Avantasia have been asked by their label if they would be willing to take part in the German preliminary round for the Eurovision Song Contest. Tobias states that his mother's gonna be proud, or is she he says?. Back to this record, this is a great album, and it hits the stores in various editions 29th January... 9.5/10 (The Nugget)

AVENGE VULTURE ATTACK..'RENEW' EP

(Self Release) Reviewed 25th October 2011

Time to sit up and listen folks to this band from West London. Fronted by Scots lass Ella Grace, they offer up an Alternative/Punk style that would appeal to the Paramore fan I would say, well that kinda style anyway. I am not saying for one moment that AVA sound like Paramore on this release, as they certainly do carry a sound of their own, and that becomes apparent the more you listen to the record. The rather vibrant 'Seven Dirty Bad Things' kicks things off, while next track, the catchy 'Renew' carries on the good work of the opener, throwing some forceful hooks into the mix. 'You Are Nothing' is a slightly slower number, but suggest to me that Ella is a force to be reckoned with, regards her punk like vocal attack. Closer, the rather forceful 'All About You' ends this little platter on a high. From great artwork to a great sound, this is a band to keep an eye on. Check them out here, which takes you onto their myspace site, while I would most certainly recommend this to fans of the genre, 8.5/10 (Dave)

AVRIGUS...'BEAUTY AND PAIN'

(Self Release - Digital) Reviewed 24th July 2012

Here we have the first studio release from Australian Band Avrigus. In-fact, I understand that this is the first studio release in 10 years, and is the first featuring the new vocalist (and composer) Megan Robins. The EP offers up five tracks of Atmospheric Gothic Doom Metal. Kicking off with the melodic slow to mid paced title track, this sets the tone of this release. Indeed, I quite like the opener and it does tend to stick around in your head for a while afterwards. There are a couple of instrumentals as well on this EP that combine well with the other three tracks, but overall, I find the album offers up a rather soothing listening experience. 'Banquet of Souls' is a nice Symphonic Doom number featuring Vanessa Black, courtesy of Lycanthia on violin, while closer 'Reborn' is an awesome mid paced and at times acoustic number. Megan's has a beautiful vocal style, while the EP should appeal to fans of Draconian, Opeth and the like. The EP was actually released in August 2010, but has escaped my radar until now. Their Facebook is here... 8.5/10 (Dave)

AWAKEN SOLACE...'IN NIGHTFALL'S EMBRACE'

(Self Release) Reviewed 9th July 2012

Awaken Solace are a brand new young band from Brisbane in Australia, a country not exactly known for symphonic power metal, who had never played live before releasing this début. With this in mind I am staggered that not only have five such talented and like minded individuals been able to find each other, but also that they have produced an album of this outstanding quality and ambition. They were formed in 2010 by the key triumvirate of stunning singer/lyricist Maree Nipperess, keyboardist/composer Robert Russell and lovely guitarist Elspeth Johnson, later joined by Rodrigo and Taylor's rhythm section. This is full on symphonic power metal that floats around Amberian Dawn, Wildpath, Ancient Bards and Edenbridge, featuring Robert's most impressive orchestral arrangements, a select group of classical musicians and two choirs, their own full adult choir and a children's choir as well. What really hits you first is the way Maree's gorgeous warm lilting semi-operatic voice, which has a touch of the Goddess Sabine Edelsbacher about it, blends with the backing vocals and choirs to sublime effect. Musicianship is incredible, featuring Elspeth's glittering guitar work, Robert's flying keyboards and Rodrigo's skilled drumming, with his double peddling used judiciously to propel the music. There is a wonderful diversity in the songs, dynamics and tempos in this beautifully constructed set that carries you effortlessly through the no less than 70 minutes of stupendous music. The album opens with the awesome 'Moonlight's Wake' and a duo of scintillating speedy stompers, 'Escaping the Beast', and 'Tomorrow's Child', before the soothing 'Gentle Breezes' allows you to mop your brow. They ease the pace a touch for the next threesome of rip-roaring rhapsodies, 'Return to Avalon', 'Path Untaken' and the menacing 'The 'Slaying of Shallow's Queen'. Taking it down into more restful waters, the beautiful aria 'Dream Walker' segues into the delightful waltz 'Eternal in Time'. Bassist Taylor steps up to the mike for the battle hymn 'Dear Evelyn', sounding uncannily like Neil Hannon, followed by the sweeping soaring 'The Passing'. The foreboding orchestra and piano piece 'The Approach of Dawn' heralds the climax, but whereas most great albums end with a mighty epic, well, on this album you get two!!.. the mystic east flavoured 'Temptress of the Desert Eye' and the outstanding and very appropriately titled 'Final Chapter'. The sound by Brazilian producer Caio Cortenesi is excellent, it's comes packaged in a most splendid digipak, and you get second CD of voice and orchestra versions as well that's perfect for relaxation (a la Sonata Arctica), highlighting Maree's wonderful vocals and Robert's remarkable symphonic arrangements. From out of nowhere this unknown band from the most unlikely of places have released an album that will have symphonic metal fans in a state of fevered excitement. The time of awakening has arrived so head here and prepare for the symphonic thunder from down under, 9.5/10 (Phil)

The A.X.E. PROJECT…’STORIES FROM A LOST REALM: PART TWO’

(Art Gates Records) Reviewed 23rd December 2015

The beginning of the The A.X.E. project has its roots in the long distant years between 1991 and 1994 under the name A.X.E. There have been personnel changes since then, including at one time the 16 year old female singer Bilyana Tsenova. Indeed there have been various changes within the vocal department, together with a name change too, but in 2010 Petya Plukchieva (soprano) joined the band and she is the band's current singer. With male vocals from joint founder member and bassist Georgi Georgiev, the band on this release offer up 8 tracks of mainly mid to up tempo Symphonic Metal. This release from this Bulgarian band is good, although there is no individual track that actually jumps out and grabs you. But having said that, for anyone that likes this style of music, go and buy it as it does grow with successive listens. The band's website is here... 8/10 (Dave).

AYIN ALEPH..'AYIN ALEPH 1'

(Ivensis Import) Reviewed 21st March 2008

Want something a little different? Check this little opus out by this Paris Based Russian lass. 19 tracks and close on 80 minutes of what has been described as Baroque Metal. I suppose we could imagine Kate Bush crossed with Nina Hagan and Marilyn Manson, and then add a little bit of Freddy Mercury, and yep, we would more or less be there. Well something like that anyway. As regards the music, the lass offers a mix of various genres. Metal guitars clearly occupy a great part of this cd, and gives the tracks a heavy and metallic feel. Then we have piano and harpsichord to bring a kind of baroque and gothic style to the orchestration. I don't think I am going to bother to list individual tracks. The whole album is an awesome affair, and although metallic and operatic it may be, Nightwish it certainly isn't. I like this, it rocks, it is heavy and it has loadsa melody. This is great stuff, a little unusual but it does our beloved genre proud, and it is well worth checking out. 9/10 (Reviewed by Dave)

AZYLYA...'SWEET CEREBRAL DESTRUCTION'

(Wormhole Death/Aural Music Group) Reviewed 5th November 2012

A trip to Azylya'a Facebook page (click here) describes their music as Insane Female Fronted Metal. And to be perfectly frank, that is possibly a pretty good summary of the music on offer here. It starts quietly enough, 'At The Beginning' is a Gothy haunting intro before 'Incest' kicks in...wow! A quiet piano intro but let's not be misled. 19 year old Jamie-Lee's angelic vocals are then shot down by the growls of Yohann, who it seems takes no prisoners. This track is B&B at it's best and will no doubt send the growl haters running behind their sofas :) 'Incest' is in-fact an awesome number with it's quieter interludes coupled with it's heavier more extreme moments. Third track in 'Woodscape' is another track that starts all so quietly and innocently enough, before the music comes alive and jumps out of the speakers knocking you backwards in the process. 'Delirius' offers a little more of the Symphonic and indeed Progressive and features just Jamie-Lee's vocals without the grunts. The opening foursome is a good start to the record, and the ferocity continues with 'Azylya', while 'Within My Cell' takes a pounding Melodic Symphonic route again featuring just the vocals of Jamie-Lee. 'Electroconvulsive' is another rather up tempo pounding B&B number, while 'Death Of Oedipal Love' starts with a cool orchestral intro (like many of the numbers in-fact) before becoming as heavy as a raging rhino! The awesome and one of my faves 'Darkness Ascending' (totally cool choral intro by the way) and Rise Of The Wicked' close this 10 track opus, that to be honest, is possibly better than I had expected - don't ask me why! To summarise then, this Belgium band offers up an awesome Symphonic Metal package accented with touches of filmscore and death where the angelic and melodic voice of the young singer and the various instruments and grunts combine to create a dark atmosphere of suffering and sad sweetness. This is a good effort from the band, and for all you people here in the UK that may want to see the band live, they will be at the Dames of Darkness next May... 8.25/10 (Dave)